In September 2018, a Berkeley police officer investigated a pedestrian crash at 10th and University. Photo: Citizen reporter

So far this year, two people have been struck and killed in Berkeley while crossing the streets and about 89 have been injured.

In an effort to reduce those numbers, the city of Berkeley wants community input on making walking safer.

The city is updating its Pedestrian Plan for 2020 and will be holding an open house on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Ed Roberts campus to gather input.

“Citywide, we’re looking to increase drivers’ awareness of pedestrians, who we are trying to make more visible,” according to an announcement of the open house by Berkeley officials. “Our strategies include high visibility crosswalks, improved street lighting and protected left turns – reducing times when drivers might turn left as a pedestrian crosses.”

Berkeley installed a  new traffic signal system called a pedestrian hybrid beacon on Ashby and Hillegass in 2018 as a way to make the intersection safer. Photo: Natalie Orenstein

One of the most highly-publicized pedestrian crashes came in January when School Board President Judy Appel and her wife Alison Bernstein were hit by a car while crossing Martin Luther King Jr. Street in South Berkeley. They both spent many months in the hospital and in rehabilitation recovering from their injuries.

Michael Diehl, a longtime Berkeley activist in People’s Park, was killed in late September while crossing a street in Newark.

The city has already identified changes it intends to make to 10 streets:

  • San Pablo Avenue, from University to Dwight
  • MLK Jr Way, from Hearst to Haste
  • Ashby Avenue, from San Pablo to Shattuck
  • Adeline Street, from Ashby to the southern border
  • University Avenue, from San Pablo to Oxford
  • Shattuck Avenue, from Adeline to the southern border
  • MLK Jr Way, from Haste to Adeline
  • Alcatraz Avenue, from Sacramento to Adeline
  • Cedar Street, from Sixth to Stannage
  • Sacramento Street, from Dwight to the southern border

In September, during Pedestrian Safety Month, Berkeley police sent out a set of recommendations for both drivers and pedestrians on how to navigate safely:

For Pedestrians

  • Look left-right-left before crossing the street. Watch for cars turning and obey traffic signals.
  • Only cross the street in marked crosswalks, preferably crosswalks at stop signs or signals.
  • Avoid distractions. Stay off the phone while walking.
  • Make eye contact with drivers. Don’t assume drivers can see you.
  • Be seen. Wear bright clothing during the day and use a flashlight at night.
  • Always walk on the sidewalk. If there is no sidewalk, walk on the shoulder, facing traffic and as far away from cars as possible.
  • Do not walk near traffic after drinking or using drugs that affect judgment and coordination.

For Drivers

  • Follow the speed limit. The higher the speed, the longer it takes to stop.
  • Never drive distracted or under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.
  • Look out for people walking, especially at night and in poorly lit areas.
  • Pedestrians have the right of way at crosswalks even if they are not at a stop sign or signal. Prepare to stop when a pedestrian enters a crosswalk.
  • Avoid blocking the crosswalk when attempting to make a right-hand turn.
  • Be careful backing up and leaving parking spaces in shopping centers with heavy foot traffic.

Maps of Berkeley’s proposed street and crosswalk changes will be available to peruse at Saturday’s open house. City officials will gather the input and use it to update the city’s Pedestrian Plan. The Draft Plan will issued in Spring 2020.


Open House
Saturday, Dec. 7
10 a.m.-1 p.m.
Ed Roberts Campus
3075 Adeline Street
(Near Ashby BART and ADA-accessible)

More information is available at Walk Berkeley.

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Frances Dinkelspiel, Berkeleyside and CItyside co-founder, is a journalist and author. Her first book, Towers of Gold: How One Jewish Immigrant Named Isaias Hellman Created California, published in November...